Monterey Caterer Charged for Allegedly Defrauding $4M in COVID-Relief Funds


Dory Lindsay Ford, a 57-year-old caterer from Monterey, California, faces serious charges for defrauding the government of $4 million in COVID-19 relief funds. A federal grand jury indicted Ford for bank fraud, wire fraud, and money laundering.

Background and Charges

Ford operated Aqua Terra Culinary, Inc., a catering company in Monterey. During the COVID-19 pandemic, he applied for and received approximately $4 million in loans and grants. These funds came from three key sources: the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), the Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF), and the Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program (EIDL).

The CARES Act, enacted in March 2020, aimed to provide financial assistance during the pandemic. It authorized up to $349 billion in forgivable loans through the PPP for small businesses. The ARPA, passed in 2021, established the RRF with $28.6 billion for grants to food and drink businesses affected by the pandemic. The EIDL program offered low-interest financing to small businesses in disaster-affected regions.

Allegations and Misuse of Funds

The indictment alleges that Ford obtained the $4 million through false representations and omissions. He is accused of using the COVID-19 relief funds to purchase real estate in Belize, invest in the stock market, and fund other business ventures. These actions were in direct violation of the intended use of the funds, which was to cover payroll costs, rent or mortgage payments, and supplies.

Specific Charges

Ford faces multiple federal charges:

  • Bank fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1344.
  • Three counts of wire fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1343.
  • Two counts of money laundering, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1957.

Legal Implications

If convicted, Dory Lindsay Ford faces up to 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine for bank fraud. Each count of wire fraud carries a maximum of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The money laundering charges could lead to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for each count. Sentencing will consider the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and 18 U.S.C. § 3553.

Next Court Appearance

Ford is scheduled to appear in court on January 31, 2024, before United States Magistrate Judge Virginia K. DeMarchi in the Northern District of California. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Neal C. Hong.

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